Monday, 15 October 2012

A Sunday Afternoon on Wadsley Common

Autumn is here, my favourite season, and as the sun sets sooner in the evening the golden shadows stretch long and crisp in the still afternoon air. What better to do, then, than walk across the common and marvel at the stunning views and intricate formations afforded us by the changing seasons.


Even early in the afternoon the world is criss-crossed with light and dark, deep shadow and gleaming highlights from the low slung sun peeping, flickering, through branches and falling leaves.

Sun through the trees

As the winding paths veers this way and that, the diffused light in the cool air takes in a wistful, dreamlike quality. The blanket of greens and browns form patterns, irregular and never repeating.


As the path winds on, the ever growing expanse of nature intrudes on man’s attempts to contain it. Trees burst through crumbling stone walls and moss covers it like a blanket of felt.

Crumbling wall

Across the common the browning grass takes on shimmering golden tones as a light breeze picks up and gently pushes the remaining stalks in unison. Sparse, crisp leaves rustle quietly in the trees and, just as suddenly, the air stills.

The conmon

The sun is low behind the hill now, lighting up the sky and making the sky bright white. Watching the heavy clouds roll sluggishly across the horizon forces the trees into silhouette, each branch, twig and leaf picked out is minute monochrome detail.


The path winds to a fork, two ways to go. The one strewn with rocks and rubble, the other thick with gorse and overgrown heather.

Fork in the road

Taking the rocky road, the path becomes treacherous. Lop-sided rock formations forced apart by gravity, erosion and the constant growth and regrowth of the many bushes and shrubs make the way difficult.


At last the path is clear again, and the top of the climb is within reach. The horizon is close now, nothing beyond but blue sky and fresh air. A windswept tree marks out the edge of the world.

Close horizon

As the crest of the hill is reached, the horizon retreats and the vista below opens up. The elaborate intertwining of a hundred thousand tiny details make up the blanket of foliage covering the common.

Intricate detail

Turning back toward home and under the horizon tree, the canopy providing a soft shadow to frame the view of the road ahead, the path leads off and to the right, along the very edge of the hill.

Right of way

Rounding the bend, the view opens out again, revealing the layered hills around the length of the Loxley valley. A bench invites weary walkers to sit and admire the darkening vista.

Loxley valley

Between the low lying bushes and matted heather rise brown, dying stalks that stand before the open sky in exquisite detail. Even as they die, waiting grow again in the spring, the plants provide an intriguing macro universe to explore.


As the afternoon draws to a close and the evening chill sets in, the sun sinks behind a cloud sat atop the distant hills. The last rays break through tiny, shrinking gaps and saturated greens and browns are picked out on the fields below. The clouds gather and it starts to rain. Time to head home to rest weary legs and put the kettle on, ready for another Sunday.


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